379. Memorandum From Gordon Chase of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)0


  • Cuba—Bill Attwood
Attached is an unsolicited chronology from Bill Attwood which describes the activities of the Cuba-Attwood tie-line from November 11 to the present. Apparently, the memo was dispatched on November 22, but because of the recent events, did not reach us until today.
I do not think that Bill’s chronology changes the sense of the memo which I sent to you earlier today.1 It does bring up a couple other points however.
Assuming we decide to let the Lechuga-Attwood tie-line continue its present limited course, shouldn’t we tell Bill to gently ease Lisa Howard out of the picture? (November 22 offers him a good excuse—“We are naturally re-studying the situation in light of recent events.”) Her inclusion at every step so far (see attached), frankly, makes me nervous.
In view of the fact that you once mentioned to me that you wanted the written tracks of this operation kept to a minimum, do you want me to tell Bill that he needn’t send us any more chronologies? Or did you mean that you wanted no written tracks between Bill and the Cubans? (I personally feel that the chronologies are valuable; they give us a more accurate picture of what is going on in New York than oral briefings and permit us to exercise a closer control.)



Memorandum From William Attwood to Gordon Chase of the National Security Council Staff

Following is an addition to my memorandum to you dated November 8, 1963:3

On November 11, Vallejo called Miss Howard again to reiterate their appreciation of the need for security and to say that Castro would go along with any arrangements we might want to make. He specifically suggested that a Cuban plane could come to Key West and pick up the emissary; alternatively they would agree to have him come in a U.S. plane which could land at one of several “secret airfields” near Havana. He emphasized that only Castro and himself would be present at the [Page 893] talks and that no one else—he specifically mentioned Guevara—would be involved. Vallejo also reiterated Castro’s desire for this talk and hoped to hear our answer soon.

On November 12, Bundy called me and I reported Vallejo’s message. He said this did not affect the White House decision that a preliminary talk with Vallejo at the United Nations should be held in order to find out what Castro wanted to talk about—particularly if he was seriously interested in discussing the points cited in Stevenson’s October 7 speech. Bundy suggested I transmit our decision to Vallejo, stressing the fact that, since we are responding to their invitation and are not soliciting a meeting, we would like to know more about what is on Castro’s mind before commiting ourselves to further talks in Cuba.

On November 13, I went to Miss Howard’s apartment and called Vallejo at home. There was no answer. She then sent a telegram asking that he call her at his convenience.

On November 14, Vallejo called her. She gave him my message—that we would want to talk to him here at the United Nations before accepting an invitation to go to Cuba. She said that, if he wished to confirm or discuss this further with the U.S. official, he could call him (Vallejo) at home on the evening of November 18. Vallejo said he would be there to receive the call. Meanwhile, he did not exclude the possibility of his coming to the United Nations and said he would discuss it with Castro.

On November 18, Miss Howard reached Vallejo at home and passed the phone to me. I told him Miss Howard had kept me informed of her talks with him and that I assumed he knew of our interest in hearing what Castro had in mind. Vallejo said he did, and reiterated the invitation to Cuba, stressing the fact that security could be guaranteed. I replied that we felt a preliminary meeting was essential to make sure there was something useful to talk about, and asked if he was able to come to New York. Vallejo said he could not come “at this time”. However, if that’s how we felt, he said that “we” would send instructions to Lechuga to propose and discuss with me “an agenda” for a later meeting with Castro. I said I would await Lechuga’s call. Vallejo’s manner was extremely cordial and he called me “Sir” throughout the conversation.

On November 19, I called Chase, and reported the conversation.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Cuba, Contact with Cuban Leaders, 5/63-4/65. Top Secret; Eyes Only.
  2. Document 378.
  3. Secret.
  4. Document 374.